As January has now drawn to a close and we’re getting closer and closer to spring, today’s post is going to be my January wrap up.
The first month of 2021 was a good reading month for me as I read some great books!
So without further ado…
The Beautifull Cassandra by Jane Austen
This Penguin Little Black Classic features some of Austen’s earliest writings and one major thing to note here is that they are a lot darker, a lot funnier, a lot more sarcastic and satirical than her novels. I loved this little collection! If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, Emma or maybe even Northanger Abbey you will know Austen to be very witty, but this collection reveals an Austen I never knew existed. It’s lovely to see how her wit and sarcasm has developed over the years and from her writing, I can picture her as a mischievous, opinionated teenager who spent most of her time in her bedroom writing short stories taking the mickey out of what she saw around her.
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries by Martin Edwards
This perfectly curated collection of short, mystery stories made me realise just how much I love reading mystery novels. Not only have I now been inspired to read some more Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, but this collection also intrdouced me to some new classic, mystery “Golden Age” authors that I feel like I really should have known (e.g. Dorothy L. Sayers, G.K. Chesterton, and Margery Allingham).
This book isn’t merry. Though the mysteries are set during Christmastime, there’s no festive cheer in these stories. They’re full of poisoning, murder, and carefully plotted plans. I was pleasantly surprised to read that many of these authors who had been featured in this collection wrote stories that were all turned into Alfred Hitchcock films at some point (!) From this collection, it’s perfectly clear why there is such a tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmastime.
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
The third book in the Chronicles of Narnia series follows the story of a boy called Shasta on the run from an evil man he has always believed was his father. Along his journey, he joins two Narnian talking horses called Bree and Hwin, and a noblewoman called Aravis who is also escaping her family.
This book is set in the lands to the south of Narnia so you get to see a completely different side to the world. It’s also set in the “Golden Age” (so when Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy ruled) and really does feel, despite the different setting, like a continuation of the previous novel. The imagery that C.S. Lewis uses to describe the desert, the city of Tashbaan… is amazing (as his writing always is). Beware, some of the language used to describe the people in this story is outdated so if you find that hard to read, perhaps avoid this book.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
This was a re-read for me but one that I haven’t read for a fair few years.
The Woman in White opens with Walter Hartright meeting the mysterious figure of the woman in white on a moonlit walk in London. From then on, he becomes embroiled in a complex, mysterious plot involving the beautiful Laura Fairlie, the conniving Count Fosco, the sinister Sir Percival Glyde and Laura’s daring and courageous half-sister, Marian Halcombe.
The Woman in White is often pitted as the most popular sensational novel. Though this is my second time reading the book, Wilkie Collins’ writing continues to surprise and impress me. I find the way that he was able to write such a complex mystery plot, with so many twists and turns that came together beautifully in the end with no loopholes, so impressive. I really enjoy that the book is told from different viewpoints to get a broader understanding of the plot and storyline. I love the character of Count Fosco and think he might be one of the most complex and interesting villains in Victorian literature. All the characters are so well developed and, within these 600+ pages, you do find yourself rooting for them.
I love this story and it would have been a 5 star read for me were it not for the slightly disappointing ending. I really wanted Marian to continue showing her daring, independent streak and help Walter to solve the mystery however, that didn’t happen. I would still recommend this book if you love highly developed storylines with a mystery at the heart of it, well developed characters, twists and turns, and a complex and intriguing villain. Put this all together with all the Victorian gothic elements; a manor house, an asylum, the streets of London… and you have the perfect novel.
What did you read in the month of January? What are you planning to read in February?
Thanks for reading!
Love, Zoë x